Ozzie: Well, you are being rude, but that’s not the point. When a bunch of pickers wants to hear what the others are playing, the best way is to stand in a circle. Unfortunately, that does mean that any non-playing friends at the event end up looking at musicians’ backsides for hours on end.
This is a long-standing social problem in which the musical needs of the musicians is contrasted against the social needs of your friends. Some friends find it too hard to take, and stay away from jams. Others are quite happy just to listen, knowing that because the pickers are hearing the best of each others’ playing, the total musical result is the best on the day. However, pickers can also use a little diplomacy. Stopping for breaks and joining with the assembled throng for a while is a good way of telling your friends ‘we know you’re there and we appreciate your support of our particular passion’.
This column is dedicated to every Australian bluegrass musician who wants to improve his or her craft – and live to play another day. Ozzie J Picker is an Australian who has enjoyed more than 50 years of playing and singing bluegrass, as well as studying the long history of its roots. Ask him anything…